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Kayaks have not changed significantly in general shape and materials for quite some time, and the traditional design presents some logistical issues for most of us. Most companies craft their personal-sized boats out of rigid materials like hard plastic. That makes them heavy to transport and hard to store when you’re not on the water. If you live in a smaller apartment or home, having a kayak may be flat-out impossible simply because you don’t have a place to keep it. And transporting one on your own could require Herculean strength on top of having access to a vehicle large enough to hold it.
Enter Oru Kayak. Inspired by origami—the Japanese paper-folding technique—Oru developed a range of unique foldable kayaks, offering a much more apartment-friendly solution. The result is a lightweight, compact, and highly portable boat that isn’t at risk of deflating like pack rafts and other inflatable options. Oru sent us its Beach LT Sport Kayak to test out for a few months, and we had a blast getting to know this truly distinct boat.
- The Oru Beach LT Kayak is a lightweight, open cockpit-style kayak that’s easy to store and transport.
- Despite being foldable, it’s stable on the water.
- It offers a rail system for mounting accessories like fishing poles or camera gear.
- Only weighs 28 pounds
- Folds up to a large suitcase size for easy storage and transport
- Extremely stable in the water
- Easy to get in and out of
- Rails allow for easy accessory attachment
- Moves smoothly and quickly in the water
- Gel cushion seat adds comfort
- Adjustable backrest and footrest
- Easy to maneuver around
- Gets pushed around in windy conditions
- Some components showed wear after just a few uses
- Black plastic gets hot in the sun
The Oru Beach LT Sport hits a sweet spot for those who want to get out and adventure on the water but don’t have the space or transportation for a traditional kayak. It isn’t a cheap option, but it is in line with heavier fishing kayaks.
The Oru Beach LT Sport Kayak’s design
The Oru Beach LT Sport Kayak falls roughly in the middle of Oru’s six different offerings in terms of size, price, and features. In fact, it combines features from its enthusiast-oriented Beach LT and the larger, more advanced Haven TT. Oru makes all of its kayaks out of 5mm double-layered, custom-extruded polypropylene—called OruPlast—which looks like a plastic version of corrugated cardboard. Oru coats the material with a 10-year UV treatment and claims its kayaks are puncture- and abrasion-resistant.
The Beat LT Sport is a 12-foot-long, open-cockpit kayak, which means it leaves your legs exposed as you float but offers more room for gear. It weighs just 28 pounds but can hold up to 300 pounds. Oru says this kayak can be paddled in deep water but not in heavy wind or chop. Your best bet is to stick to calm days. It features rails on both sides for attaching fishing rod holders, cup holders, camera equipment, and more, making it the ideal Oru for fishing and other such adventures.
The Beach LT Sport’s setup
One of the main perks of Oru kayaks is that they fold down into compact packages—33 inches by 13 inches by 29 inches, in this case. But that means that they do require assembly. For help with this, it comes with a handy book with graphics and step-by-step instructions. You can also scan a QR code to pull up a video of the assembly process, which was very helpful.
Oru specifies on its website that assembling the Beach LT Sport takes 10-15 minutes. I found that to be accurate after I put it together a few times. The first time took about 20 minutes as my husband and I figured out the process and which pieces go where. It’s worth noting that the edge of the plastic is pretty sharp, and I managed to slice myself when putting the boat together the first time. It didn’t happen again, but definitely be careful as you assemble the kayak. After I got the hang of it, assembly was really quick and simple, and I could easily knock it out myself in 10 minutes or so.
Putting the boat back into suitcase mode was more of a challenge than assembling it and took quite a bit longer, especially the first few times. There were instructions in the book with graphics for each step, but some weren’t very clear. It also took a lot of hunting to find a video of the disassembly process. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that the plastic was extra rigid the first few times, which made it tough to bend things back the opposite way. But, after working out some of the kinks—literally and figuratively—disassembly took roughly the same amount of time as assembly.
The Beach LT Sport’s performance
A foldable kayak may be neat and useful, but it isn’t much good if it doesn’t perform well on the water. Luckily, the Beach LT Sport was fantastic in most situations. I was really surprised at how stable it was, especially considering how lightweight it is. I could move around in the kayak—reaching behind the seat to get the sunscreen and sun hat, casting a fishing rod, reaching over to grab my husband’s boat—without the slightest worry about tipping over. I even purposefully wiggled around a lot with no issues. Oru even specifies that these are great for dogs. I didn’t bring my pooch along while testing since she doesn’t do very well in boats, but it would definitely be stable enough for all but the most rambunctious dogs.
Since the kayak is so lightweight, it is extremely easy to maneuver in the water. It picks up speed with ease, and I could turn on a dime. The boat cuts smoothly through the water, making for a really pleasant experience. And, as you would hope, the boat was completely watertight, so the only water I had coming in was dripping from the paddle.
The lightweight design does have its downsides, however. Both the current and wind pushed me around pretty easily, which made it tricky to stay in one spot while fishing. When I went out in a nearby river or in windy conditions, I had to repeatedly put the fishing rod down and paddle back to my spot. Granted, this is going to be the case to a certain extent with most sit-in paddle-based kayaks when compared to a sit-on peddle-drive setup, but it still got to be frustrating. I also found myself skipping out on trips on windy days because I didn’t want to fight with the wind, and Oru specifies this boat isn’t for use in heavy wind or chop.
Oru Beach LT Sport comfort
Most people will be taking a kayak out for more than just a few minutes, so it needs to be comfortable to sit in for long periods. Oru clearly prioritized comfort with this model, as it includes a gel cushion seat, which is usually a separate upgrade. It’s nicely padded and comfortable to sit on. The backrest—which is lightly padded—is adjustable in height and reclining angle so that you can fine-tune your position. The adjustable footrest is just a plastic bar, but you can adjust its distance for an ideal sitting position.
I typically ventured out for a few hours at a time, and overall, I was quite happy with how comfortable the Beach LT Sport was. After an hour or so, I did get a bit restless and had to keep adjusting my position to be comfortable, but that’s true of any seated position for extended periods for me. Luckily, it’s stable enough to hold up to my wiggling around to get comfortable.
Overall, I was really impressed by this Oru kayak, but it was not without faults. While Oru kayaks are made of rugged and durable materials, the front and back fairings showed signs of wear (slight tearing near the seams) after just a few uses. I didn’t pull on them any more than I had to in order to get them on the kayak, so this was surprising to see. Also, the rubber edging on the floor piece popped off slightly the first time I used it and continued to come loose throughout my testing. It tended to collect water, which would get inside the corrugated plastic. I’m sure it could be glued on, but I was disappointed that the piece came loose so quickly.
It’s also worth pointing out that while Oru kayaks are made of highly durable plastic, the act of unfolding and folding puts wear and tear on the joints. That’s one aspect typical kayaks don’t need to consider. Oru specifies that its kayaks are rated to 20,000 folds, which means they should last for a very, very long time, but I only tested it for about half a dozen folds and can’t speak to long-term durability.
So, who should buy the Oru Beach LT Sport?
I have wanted a kayak for a long time, but the idea of figuring out storage and then trying to transport the thing on my own as a small female was an obstacle. Inflatable kayaks have existed for a while, but you need to have some means of inflating them and then hope you don’t get a puncture. Oru Kayaks offer a sweet spot for a lot of people because of just how lightweight, compact, and portable they are without needing any additional equipment or tools.
The Beach LT Sport is normally priced just shy of $2,000, which is at the expensive end, to be sure. But if you compare it to other fishing kayaks—which is what this is meant to be—it’s not out of line. That’s especially true when you consider the portability and storage benefits you get from this kayak compared to traditional ones. The Beach LT Sport has its downsides—it doesn’t perform well in windy conditions or in rough water—but it is also an extremely fun kayak in a tiny, easy-to-work-with package.